The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Military provides push in right direction

    Life in the military is a godsend for a humor writer. It’s kind of like living in a fraternity only with guns and explosives instead of just the alcohol. Whenever I am short of material, I can always think back to those days and instantly remember some crazy event that either I witnessed or was involved in. This is one of those events I was involved in, albeit unintentionally. Back when I served with 1st Ranger Battalion, I was employed as a platoon forward observer. It’s very difficult to explain what an FO does to anyone who isn’t in the military. When I was deciding what job I wanted in the Army and asked what an FO did, I was simply told, “Oh it’s a great job-you get to break things and kill people.” Don’t panic, it’s not all that. Mostly I ended up carrying a heavy radio around or sitting on a hill somewhere watching for things to break.
    Anyway, early in my career, I was carrying the aforementioned heavy radio and moving with my platoon on an MOUT mission. Yeah, I know, another acronym-MOUT stands for, Military Operations in Urban Terrain. Still doesn’t make sense does it? Basically this means fighting from house to house, or fighting in a city environment. We were at Fort Benning, Ga. in one of their little mock cities, practicing doing just that.
    Now one of the first things you learn about taking a building is that it’s easier if you take it from the top down. To achieve this goal, we had fast roped out of a Black Hawk helicopter onto the roof of the first building we intended to take.
    Remember my heavy radio? It’s vital to have good communications, but that cursed thing always made my fast rope trips and parachuting a little faster than those of the average Ranger.
    “Hey Ben, how come I jumped out of the plane six people in front of you and you still beat me to the ground?”
    “Beats me Joe. … Now help me straighten my legs back out, and let’s get off the drop zone.”
    This fine evening, the fast roping went without incident, and we soon had the first building secured. Now we had a dilemma: We could leave the first building from the ground floor, race out into the street and assault the adjacent building from its ground floor, or we could find some way to get onto its roof and again go from the top down.
    After a brief discussion, we decided that since the second building was very close to the one we were in and one story shorter, we would all go out of one of the windows of the top floor of the first building and onto the roof of the second one. Not at all a bad idea, except for the fact that I was encumbered by my radio, and there was no way I could go out the window and make the leap to the other roof.
    My platoon leader mulled this over for a second then asked if I trusted him. Here’s a little lesson: If someone in charge of you asks you this, run! I didn’t know this lesson yet, so I let him know that I did indeed trust him. “Fine,” he said, “Just sit in the window with your feet on the edge of the other building’s roof.”
    At the time, I thought he was going to leave me in the original building and wanted me in the window so someone could relay info back to me if I was needed.
    Alas, this was not to be. I got into the position he requested and he asked me if I was ready. “Ready for what?” I asked. “And why did your voice get quieter? It almost sounds like you went to the other side of the room for something.”
    I realized too late what was going to happen. My trusty platoon leader raced at full speed across the room and hit my rucksack with the radio in it with everything he had. His idea worked; I was instantly propelled into an upright position, and with my feet still in contact with the edge of the other buildings acting as a pivot point and my arms flailing wildly in the air, I flopped across the gap between the buildings and landed flat on the other roof.
    I never forgave the good lieutenant for that, and I tried to never turn my back on him again. For weeks after, he would sneak up behind me and make little running noises with his feet, then laugh when I cringed. Still, I wonder how he came up with that harebrained idea at the spur of the moment. Maybe they teach that sort of thing in ROTC.

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    Military provides push in right direction